Dozens of people watch online as case for new west Herts hospital has its day in court
Over 80 people watched online as a High Court case about the future of the area’s hospitals, brought by a campaign group in Dacorum, went ahead this week.
Campaigners from the New Hospital Campaign (NHC) were amazed and heartened by the public interest in the judicial review case, in which they urge the West Herts Trust to carry out a proper consultation on its plans.
In just 24 hours more than 80 people requested access through the NHC to proceedings in the virtual courtroom.
The NHC’s barrister David Wolfe QC, supported by solicitors from Leigh Day, put forward the group's arguments that the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) failed to consult the public properly before deciding to eliminate the option of a new hospital option in 2019.
In the same year, the campaigners say that the HVCCG wrongly concluded that it did not need to have a formal public consultation about its own preferred option – involving disruptive demolition, refurbishment and some new build on the crumbling and part-polluted Watford site.
The campaign wants the health bodies to conduct a full consultation so that a fair choice of sites can be offered to the public.
The result of the judicial review case in the High Court before Mr Justice Kerr will be announced in a few weeks.
Jean Ritchie of the NHC said: "Once again so many people in West Hertfordshire have shown that they want a new modern hospital on a clear and accessible central site.
"It is still a complete mystery why the HVCCG and the West Herts Hospitals Trust are so insistent on this short-sighted approach.
"All the evidence suggests that few people support the idea of redeveloping Watford General.
"The Trust published an opinion survey which contained some misleading and biased questions to help their case.
"Despite this bias, the survey results were clear – a substantial majority of respondents disagreed with the preferred option of trying to improve Watford General."
A spokesperson for Herts Valleys CCG said: “On Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 October the high court heard the arguments for the claimant’s case, together with the CCG’s defence and also the Trust’s.
"We expect to hear the outcome of the hearing when the judgement is issued by Justice Kerr in due course.”
The West Hertfordshire NHS Hospitals Trust was approached for comment and we are waiting for a response.